September/October 2016

By Rob Durning, Director of Community Services

With the start of construction of the new Village Hall I thought it would be a good time to talk a bit about one of the primary hats I wear for the Village, which is Building Official.  Most folks refer to it as building inspector. I’m surprised on those rare occasions when a contractor calls and asks what time the building official is coming out for inspection. Concrete can’t wait you know. The thick and technical and dusty dry building code books you’ve probably never read or seen, or will ever read or see, all say building official. I’m guessing the American Concrete Institute’s Publication #318 on building code requirements for structural concrete will not make it to a Riverwoods book club discussion. Building official sounds more, well, official, and in my day to day work more accurate of what really happens whether I’m on a job site or explaining over the phone the reasons why that concrete batch failed the inspection and maybe should’ve stayed at the plant until that arctic front passed safely by.

That concrete batch and the codes that regulate it are important to you. It’s important to the contractor you’ve hired too. He wants to frame that batch of concrete into the foundation for your room addition you’ve been planning and are now starting to build. By the way, your concrete contractor wants to get paid right away and finish work as fast as possible. I’m paid to make sure your contractor complies with those pesky building codes. Nobody is happy when your foundation heaves out of the earth in springtime because that frozen concrete batch wasn’t put on hold. The building code governs all this. My job is to make sure that concrete doesn’t freeze – it’s an ACI #318 publication thing.

Concrete and foundations are one example of where things can go wrong in your home if work isn’t done correctly. Codes and safety are important to you for electrical, mechanical, carpentry, fuel gas, and plumbing systems.

I remember not long ago a house fire right here in Riverwoods for which there almost certainly would have been a loss of life if not for a basement escape window. That basement escape window was and still is a code requirement. That house would not have been issued an occupancy permit by my predecessor at the time of its construction without that window.

We have building codes to protect lives and property. It’s not glamorous work being a building official but I think it’s important.  Building permits and inspections are necessary to ensure that codes are being complied with.

I’m happy to report that the concrete foundation for our new Village Hall is being poured now in the dog days of August; not a chill in the air.

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